Anti-Fracking March on Kent City Hall

Feb 11, 2012 – 11:00 am
The Kent Stage
175 E. Main St.
Kent    (Directions)

Anti-Fracking March on Kent City Hall

When: Feb 11 – 11 a.m.

Where: Beginning at the Kent Stage

Republicans change their minds about pushing fracking in state parks

By Darrel RowlandThe Columbus Dispatch  •  Tuesday March 17, 2015 9:46 PM

Reps. Al Landis, R-Dover, left, and Sean O’Brien, D-Brookfield
Ohio’s state parks are safe from fracking after a legislative panel pulled the controversial provision on Tuesday.Almost as significant: The rare defeat of the oil and gas industry came after genuine cooperation between Democrats and Republicans in the Ohio General Assembly.“It’s a big win for the people of the state of Ohio,” said Rep. David Leland, D-Columbus.

The measure is set for a vote by the full House on Wednesday, where approval is expected.

But the whole thing almost didn’t happen.

Yesterday’s action stemmed from a series of conversations — including several phone calls during the weekend — between House Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Al Landis, R-Dover, and the top Democrat on the panel, Sean O’Brien, a Democrat from the Warren area.

An amendment from the Democrats to protect parks from fracking came together shortly before the committee convened in a Statehouse basement hearing room. Once the panel convened, it immediately recessed so the Republicans who control the committee could caucus privately for about 15 minutes.

When they came back, the GOP members — who unanimously opposed a similar ban on park fracking a week earlier — unanimously supported O’Brien’s amendment. His change also barred fracking from disturbing the surface area of state forests, although it would be permitted underground. And state wildlife areas will be open to fracking. Nature preserves already were protected.

The overall bill, whose focus is to speed up the state permitting process for fracking, also passed without dissent.

“This amendment came through in the last 20 minutes,” O’Brien said after the rapid-fire votes. “ It took a lot of negotiations, a lot of give and take and I think we came up with a better bill. … Everyone wants to protect parks and do the right thing.”

Landis echoed O’Brien’s remarks, saying “communication is key.”

Landis said new Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, R-Clarksville, is trying to set a new tone of bipartisanship.

The committee chairman acknowledged that his members changed their minds on allowing fracking in state parks.

“Sometimes you have to take a step back to move forward,” he said.

Landis also noted that Gov. John Kasich’s opposition “was something that was certainly taken into consideration” as well.

The General Assembly approved fracking in Ohio’s parks in 2011, and Kasich signed the bill. Under that law, a newly created Oil and Gas Commission was given the responsibility of approving potential drillers after completion of environmental and geological studies, determining the potential impact on visitors, seeking public input and meeting other requirements.

But Kasich had a change of heart on allowing drilling on public lands and in effect imposed a unilateral moratorium by not appointing members to the commission — meaning that nobody could get an OK to drill in parks.

Under the previous version of the current bill, the commission would have been removed from the decision-making process, wiping out the fracking prerequisites in the 4-year-old law — and ending the governor’s unofficial moratorium.

The new bill also addresses “unitization” requests.

Ohio law allows fracking an area when 65 percent of the landowners agree — forcing the other 35 percent to join under a process called unitization.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources considers unitization requests, but the Ohio Oil & Gas Association and others say the agency dawdles on the applications, taking an average of 120 days from a unitization application to a hearing, and 116 days from a hearing to a final decision.

The new bill would require the department to decide within 75 days.

Replicated only for posterity. All credit goes to The Columbus Dispatch. Copyright 2015. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Original article found @http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2015/03/17/fracking-in-state-parks.html

 

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